Recent Maritime Transportation Security Developments

Dec 2, 2010 12:00 AM
Last week saw several items of interest in the maritime transportation security world, courtesy of the United Nations, the organization of the West and Central Africa MOU on Port State Control, the US and Australian governments, and the Somali pirates.
UN Security Council Resolution on Somali Piracy
On November 23rd, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1950 (2010) on the Situation in Somalia, by which the Council determined that "the incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea off the coast of Somalia exacerbate the situation in Somalia, which continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region." This finding permits the Security Council to act under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Mostly a rehash of previous developments and references to previous Security Council actions, the resolution is most notable for its extension, for another year, of the authorization (first adopted in 2008 and renewed in 2009) for countries and regional organizations to take the fight against piracy and armed robbery at sea into the Somali territorial sea and even onto land. The UN-recognized Transitional Federal Government of Somalia had earlier consented to this extension.
Abuja MOU to Implement Uniform Port Security Policy
According to a recent press report, the Abuja MOU, the regional Port State Control MOU for West and Central Africa, is set to implement a uniform policy on port security. This was one of the decisions reached at the 1st Extra-ordinary Meeting of the Bureau of the MOU, held in Abuja on November 23rd. The principal means for achieving this will be the development of a "White List" of vessels and shipping companies that meet requirements set by the International Maritime Organization, the UN's specialized agency for maritime transportation security, safety, and environmental protection. The countries participating in the Abuja MOU are: Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The Gambia, and Togo.
US Coast Guard Updates Maritime Security Directive on Piracy
Apparently operating in the stealth mode once again, on November 23rd the US Coast Guard published Revision 4 to Maritime Security (MARSEC) Directive 104-6, Guidelines for U.S. Vessels Operating in High Risk Waters, which provides mandatory direction to US-Flag vessels to respond to "emerging security threats" in designated "High Risk Waters." As the Maritime Security Directive is designated as Sensitive Security Information (SSI), this discussion is based on the sanitized version issued as Port Security Advisory (2-09)(Rev. 2),1 also on November 23rd. The only changes are to insert the following subparagraphs in the section entitled "During transits of a High Risk Area" and the deletion of the sections "If anchored in High Risk Waters" and "If berthed in High Risk Waters."
(n) Avoid anchoring or drifting in high risk waters.
(o) If a vessel is at anchor or in port in High Risk Waters, the provisions of Policy section paragraph 4.b should be implemented and all deck lighting should be illuminated at night. Prior to leaving port, the ship should be thoroughly searched and all doors or access points secured or controlled.
These changes are not of any significant substance, unless the measures called for in the MARSEC Directive have changed. "Policy section paragraph 4.b" evidently refers to the Directive, as there is no such paragraph in the Port Security Advisory. There may also have been changes to the Directive's designations of High Risk Waters, which as SSI, are not reflected in the Advisory. The recent MARAD Advisory 2010-10, extending the waters affected by the terrorism warning occasioned by the July attack on a tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, is suggestive. The continuing expansion of the Somali pirates' operating areas (for the latest, see below) provides another possibility.
As yet, there has been no Federal Register Notice of the revision to Maritime Security Directive 104-6, which is required for the Government to be able to enforce mandatory provisions. When the Directive was last updated in May 2010, this Notice did not appear until about two weeks later, at which time, the Coast Guard also published the Notice for the May 2009 version.
Australia Updates Information on Maritime Security Identification
Card On November 26th, the Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport posted four updated Fact Sheets dealing with the Maritime Security Identification Card (MISC) on its website. The changes to the Fact Sheets, which bear the titles "Maritime Security Identification Cards (MISCs)," "Maritime Security Identification Card (MISC) — enhancements," "Maritime Security Identification Card (MISC) — holders' new obligation from 1 December 2010," and "Maritime Security Identification Card (MISC) — discretionary cards," are not highlighted. They may be related to the newly effective requirement that holders report their convictions of disqualifying Maritime Security Related Offences (MSROs) or of other MSROs for which they were sentenced to imprisonment (including periodic detention and suspended sentences). If so, one hopes the updates are minor, as the requirement took effect today. The requirement was at least mentioned in a Fact Sheet last summer.
There is a curious difference between the discussions in two of the Fact Sheets. "Maritime Security Identification Card (MISC) — enhancements" states that upon receipt of such a report, the issuing body "will be obligated to cancel" the card. On the other hand, "Maritime Security Identification Card (MISC) — holders' new obligation from 1 December 2010" indicates that the Government "will conduct an additional background check to determine the MSIC holder's eligibility to hold an MISC" with the card being cancelled if the holder is found ineligible.
A MISC is required for "unmonitored access to a maritime security zone" such as a port facility or Australian-regulated ship.
Somali Pirates Operate Further East
On the 26th, the European Union Naval Force Somalia (EU NAVFOR) issued a press release reporting that Somali pirates had unsuccessfully attacked the bulk carrier MV MEDI CHENNAI approximately 880 nautical miles East of Port Victoria, Seychelles — the furtherest East attack ever reported to EU NAVFOR. (The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported the position as 00º26•S — 70º00•E.) On the 28th, the Information Sharing Centre of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) issued an Incident Alert concerning the unsuccessful attack on November 25th against the crude oil tanker GURU GOBIND SINGH further North at 14º52• N — 68º00•E, which is approximately 325 NM off the coast of India. (This attack clearly involved a mother ship, thought to be the MT POLAR, which had been hijacked October 30th.) The Incident Alert also plotted a nearby attack on the NORNA N in the early morning hours of November 24th. The IMB's Live Piracy Report indicates, without details of ship type, another attack East of 68ºE—this one a successful hijacking on the 26th at 05º38•N — 68º27•E. (On the 29th, EU NAVFOR issued a press release reporting the hijacking on the 26th of the cargo ship MV ALBEDO approximately 900 NM East of Mogadishu, Somalia, which translates to about 60ºE. It's not clear whether it's the same ship, or, if so, who's right on the position.) The current Industry Best Management Practices (BMPs) against Somali piracy, which date from late June 2010, establish the high risk area as west of 78ºE, although they acknowledge that no attacks have occurred East of about 70ºE. The UKMTO Voluntary reporting Area also begins at 78ºE. l On the Homeport website,, click on "Counter Piracy" under "Featured Homeport Links" at the top right of the page. Then scroll down to the listing of PSAs and click on PSA (2-09)(Rev.2). NOTE: This post may be copied, distributed, and displayed and derivative works may be based on it, provided it is attributed to Maritime Transportation Security News and Views by John C. W. Bennett, 
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